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The Lost City (2005)

August 24th, 2007 by Maxim · 2 Comments · 4,535 Views


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*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A film by Andy Garcia starring himself, Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray and Elizabeth Peña – quite a constellation of stars. It begins in 1958 in one of pre-revolution Havana’s (though film is shot in Dominican Republic) club’s room. We are witnessing a typical “fathers and sons” conflict. The family is torn by conflicting feelings: on one hand they are a wealthy family that owns the club, and the father is basically talking about how family like theirs will be ruling the country, while youngest, most hot-blooded son is talking about revolution, getting rid of Batista and building a fair society where workers are the ruling class. Yet even the father is not happy with Batista, but he believes the dictator can be removed in a non-violent way. Then the youngest son gets arrested and prosecuted for publishing an anti-regime newspaper article. Another brother gets killed during an attempted assassination of Batista. Following the tragedy, the family is almost back to normal life. But while Fico, Andy Garcia’s character, is enjoying his love to his brother’s widow Aurora (brilliantly played by beautiful Spaniard Inés Sastre) and idyllic life on the beautiful island, University of Havana is closed due to riots, Fidel begins his Revolution and Batista leaves the country. As always after a revolution, in the days or reaction, Batista’s terror is replaced with Fidel’s terror. The American mafia (did I mention Dustin Hoffman plays a mobster) is leaving the island too. The clubs and cabarets are being shut down. Land is being nationalized and landlords are being evicted. Another conflict ensues: the revolutionary Andy Garcia’s brother has to evict his uncle. Aurora wants to become part of the revolutionary movement. The family is falling apart. Their entire way of life is over. The ending is bitter.

This movie is pretty good at showing what the rich people went through during the revolution. There’s no reference though at the life conditions of the working-class Cubans before and after the revolution. I’ve read many articles and forums posts about this movie cheering the historical accuracy of this movie, but all I saw was a one-sided, narrow-minded story where the upper class was victimized. Reminded me of an old 1976 Soviet movie Dni Tutbinikh, which is based on a play (not surprisingly, the entire movie was shot in one room) about Russian aristocratic family falling apart during 1917 Bolshevik revolution. Same premise, mostly. It would be nice to watch or listen to the interviews with the creators of the movie and listen to what they have to say about the subject – maybe I missed something. I had a feeling, though, that Andy Garcia learned about the revolution and Cuba from the news headlines and horror stories of dissidents, not from his own experience. Of course, this is an artistic movie, not a documentary. Then again I’ve seen quite a few documentaires about Cuba and other Latin-American countries made by directors who had never been there.

I think the actor who played Batista is the same guy who played drug lord’s sidekick Miguel in ‘Crocodile’ Dundee II. I thought I recognized him - Juan Fernandez. He’s good!

Beautiful settings and photography. The music is just great. I need to get me the soundtrack. The original score is also by Andy Garcia – what a versatile and talented guy! I heard Cesaria Evora’s song as well – love her songs, although I don’t understand a word.

I liked Fico’s red Alpha-Romeo (I think it was an Alpha).

Everybody is smoking. This is a real fire hazard when men hold their cigars so close to women’s hair.

I don’t know what Bill Murray or his character are doing in this movie. His presence in the movie served no purpose. I guess he was supposed to comment on the events, to narrate in jokes, but it didn’t work for me.

Dustin Hoffman is a fantastic actor, but he was not at all innovative in this film – he plays the mobster just the same as he did in the ”Confidence”.

The movie is 143 minutes long – a bit too long, but it has to cover a lot of events. I think everyone should see this movie, even though it flopped at the theatres – if not for the story then for artistic curiosity.

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Rated 4/5 on Aug 24 2007
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Tags: DVD · Drama · Epics/Historical · Movies · Romance

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Maxim // Dec 2, 2007 at 6:14 am

    This comment was originally posted at 22:07 on 1st December 2007.nnThanks for the comment.

  • 2 Sharlet Marquez // Dec 1, 2007 at 6:04 pm

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    Enjoyed your review. I watched this movie in Miami with Cuban in-laws and the women were just enraptured with the story. One came here in 1959 and the other 15 years ago by boat. I loved the music but the story seemed too cliche. I could have written it myself without ever having been to Cuba or thru the Revolution. The one thing I can’t gain from this movie experience is how bad life was for the people of Cuba after the Revolution. I would much rather listen to the people who actually lived thru the Revolution and left than watch this movie. I had to force myself to stay awake out of respect for the other people in the room.

  • 3 Maxim // Dec 1, 2007 at 10:07 pm

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    Thanks for the comment.

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